Welcome to our Wrestle Kingdom 10 Preview Series, otherwise known (by nobody) as the #WK10PS! As January 4th nears, I’ll be bringing you previews of all the matches set to take place at the Tokyo Dome. Up first is the obligatory four-way tag team match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles.
I have to be honest: I was not looking forward to previewing this particular match. No offense to any of the guys involved as they’re all great! I mean, Rocky Romero is pretty much the best. Trent has great Bill Murray knee pads. The Young Bucks are the Young Bucks. Kyle O’Reilly is awesome and had one of the best matches this year with KUSHIDA. Bobby Fish has a mean moustache. Ricochet and Matt Sydal are a fresh tag team and do an assortment of very pretty flips. With this much talent involved, it’s no doubt going to be a fun, funny, chaotic, fast paced, Dragon Gate style match.
When I say I’m not looking forward to previewing this match, what I mean is that I’m not looking forward to trying to explain the storyline reason for this match But, before I endeavour to do that, let’s prolong the inevitable/get to know the participating teams a little better.
reDragon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) appear frequently in New Japan as part of the ROH/New Japan partnership. Along with being three-time ROH World Tag Team Champs, they are currently in their second run as IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team champs. Their first run came about after winning the 2014 Super Jr. Tag Tournament and going on to defeat the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) for the titles. Their current reign started on August 16 at the G1 Finals when they defeated the Young Bucks. And yeah, they’re pretty great.
The Young Bucks are another team out of ROH that are featured regularly in New Japan. They are also former ROH World Tag Champs and three-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champs. They enjoy doing superkicks and telling people everywhere to suck it. Despite the constant ordering to do so, I’ve never seen any actually take them up on the offer, and I thank the lord for that every day. They’re also in this little group called the Bullet Club. You may have seen their shirts.
Roppongi Vice, or sometimes, RPG Vice.
Roppongi Vice are the Forever(ish) Hooligan Rocky Romero and Trent “My Name Is a Question” Baretta. RPG Vice formed after Romero’s Forever Hooligan partner Alex Koslov retired, leaving Romero in need of a new partner. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Romero become a singles wrestler as he’s one of the best and most entertaining juniors on the New Japan roster, but it wasn’t meant to be. It all worked out in the end as the also very talented and underrated Baretta joined Rocky in March this year to form RPG Vice. The duo very quickly captured the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship(s?) from the Young Bucks at Invasion Attack in April (They lost the titles back to the Bucks a month later, but who hasn’t?). Their theme music, produced by Romero, is ridiculously catchy and refuses to get out of your head. Furthermore, if they ever produce a line of perfume, it will be called Roppongi Spice.
Matt Sydal & Ricochet (Air Puma?)
To enter the 2015 NJPW Super Jr. Tag Tournament, singles stars Matt Sydal and Ricochet joined (air)forces to become…Matt Sydal & Ricochet: Tag Team! The Crown Prince of Boyle Heights and former Evan Bourne defeated the Time Splitters, Young Bucks, and Roppongi Vice in the finals to win the annual tournament. The team has adopted a very effective double team finisher of stereo Shooting Star Presses. Besides making for a great visual, thanks to the pair’s impeccable timing, what I love about it is that it’s a double team move that takes out both opponents. Pretty much every other double team finisher I can think of is done to only one opponent, leaving the other open to make a save. I just think that’s pretty neat. Let’s carry on.
Well, I guess I’ve avoided this part long enough. So, just how did we get to this quadruple team title match?
Here goes! To start, reDRagon (Fish & O’Reilly) are the IWGP Jr. tag champs (just like they were this time last year) so obviously they’re in. Sydal and Ricochet earned a title shot by winning the 2015 Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament, so they’re in. Now, this is where it gets a little fuzzy. The Young Bucks felt, and rightly so I suppose, that they deserved their rematch for the titles after losing them to reDRagon back in August, so they’re in. Finally, RPG Vice defeated reDRagon in the semifinals of the 2015 Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament, so they felt they too deserved a shot at the titles, and thus, they’re in. And the rest, as they say, is history. It does make you wonder what the purpose of having a Jr. Tag tournament when 50% of the teams end up in the Wrestle Kingdom title match.
Of course, the simple version of the story is that four-way tag team matches for the IWGP Jr. Tag titles have seemingly become a traditional Wrestle Kingdom match. The last Tokyo Dome show that featured only two teams fighting for the titles was in 2011 at Wrestle Kingdom VI. Wrestle Kingdom 7 was a three-way, and since Wrestle Kingdom 8, it’s been four-ways.
Personally, I’d prefer a traditional 2-on-2 tag match for the titles at the Dome. Four-ways are fun, but when it’s teams who’ve faced each other again and again, it’s hard to make the match up feel fresh (at least the new pairing of Sydal & Ricochet help with that issue). They’re always very fast, with a nice mix of athleticism and comedy, and with the level of talent involved, the quality is always top notch. They’re basically a very good Dragon Gate match. I guess the other upside is that eight talented and deserving workers are getting a spot on the card for the biggest show of the year instead of 4.
Be prepared. There will be flips, splashes, superkicks, forever clotheslines, arm bars, guillotines, back rakes, Indytakers, Meltzer Drivers, Suck Its, and more! And if you blink, you’ll miss all of it.